America's most-hated industries

Recent polling suggests that overall economic conditions play a significant role in shaping public perceptions of some of the industries we rely on. Among those we hate: oil and banking.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 27, 2012 1:12PM

By Michael B. Sauter and Thomas C. Froelich, 24/7 Wall St.


Americans are not happy with the government. But for the first time in a long while, it is not the most-hated sector of the economy.24/7 Wall St.


That honor now belongs to the oil and gas industry, the result of climbing pump prices and images from the BP oil spill that remains fresh in the minds of many people.


A new poll conducted by Gallup asked thousands of Americans how they feel about 25 of the nation's largest industries -- positive, neutral or negative. The computer industry came out on top, with 73% of respondents reporting positive feelings. At the other end of the spectrum, just 22% are positive about banking and more than 60% are negative.


The website 24/7 Wall St. used that poll and other data to assemble this list of the most-hated industries in the private sector.


Generally, consumers are most positive about the sectors where they spend their discretionary dollars -- for leisure or entertainment. Among the top-ranked sectors are the Internet, restaurants, retail and computers.


Conversely, the industries that received the most negative response are those that provided what consumers consider as necessities, notably financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals.


Many of those industries have long been regarded negatively. In some instances, though, perceptions have improved in recent years. In health care, for instance, positive perception increased from 27% in 2011 to 42% this year, according to the survey.


Negative attitudes toward banking and real estate intensified in recent years, possibly as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis. Banking has seen the biggest increase in negative image since the survey was first conducted, with 53% of respondents reporting negative feelings this year, up from 23% in 2001.


Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, noted that Americans' negative feelings toward the real estate industry are not directed at real estate agents. "We're not thinking about our local Remax estate agent, who's a nice person," Newport said. "We're think about the big repackagers of mortgages and subprime mortgages, and how those have all gone wrong."


In compiling its list of the 25 most hated sectors, 24/7 Wall St. considered the Gallup data as well as the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), which employs an econometric model to score industries on a 0-100 scale.


Here is a closer look at the top five:


1. Oil and gas

Negative rating: 61%

Last year, gas stations had a 74 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, placing them 37th out of 48 industries included in the survey. Pump prices were on the rise as Gallup was performing its 2012 survey, Newport noted. "They see prices inexplicably zoom up and they're not sure why," he added.


Additionally, the industry's high profits and tax breaks it receives from government may contribute to the industry's poor public image.

The Gallup report also suggests that some Americans believe the industry has a poor environmental record. A fire broke out at one of Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, Calif., earlier this month, resulting in thousands of emergency room visits and potentially harmful exposure to toxic fumes. Accidents like than can only harm the industry's image.


2. Banking

Negative rating: 53%

The industry's overall negative rating increased significantly over the past 11 years, rising to 53% today from 20% in 2001. The percentage of positive ratings has declined by nearly 50% since 2001.


The reason for the banking industry's poor image is fairly straightforward, as the sector has "been involved in major issues since (the demise of) Lehman Brothers in 2008, and it still looks like a problem," Newport said.


High fees for banking services may contribute to the negative image. Plus, a high volume of scandals in the United States and in Europe exposes flaws in the industry and undermine the public's confidence in its effectiveness.


Bank of America has built an infamous public image with false foreclosures, property seizures misleading mortgage adjustment programs and other controversial conduct. Scandals like these could be fueling the perception that the banking industry is only profit-oriented and functioning at the expense of the average American.


3. Health care

Negative rating: 42%

Of all the industries discussed by Gallup, health care saw the most positive change in the last year. Its positive image is also the best it has been since 2001.


The Gallup report suggests that these changes may reflect the effects of the Supreme Court's June decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature domestic policy initiative.


Despite a 16% increase in positive ratings since 2001, the sector still polls as one of the most negatively perceived industries. Gallup's Newport noted that "although a lot of Americans in our surveys tell us they are actually satisfied with their personal health care . . . (the) image of the health care industry in general is more negative because Americans hear so many problems about it."


4. Real estate

Negative rating: 41%

Over a 10-year period, the real estate industry's negative rating increased by 105% -- an increase second only to banking industry's.

Additionally, the overall positive views of real estate have dropped by almost 20% in the last year alone.


Americans' low opinion of this industry is probably related to the mortgage crisis and the effects it has had on the economy, according to Newport, and has less to do with consumers' experiences as they engage with agents to buy or sell homes.


5. Pharmaceutical Industry

Negative rating: 38%

The pharmaceuticals sector is another that has seen its negative ratings soften a bit in recent months. Gallup reported a 10-point improvement -- to 38% negative from 48% -- over the past year.


A recent Harris-Interactive study reported that 46% of people believed the pharmaceutical industry ought to be more regulated, and it was among the industries least likely to be considered honest and trustworthy.


It would seem the industry's public image and trustworthiness suffers from frequent lawsuits by consumers and regulators alike, with consumers alleging the medications caused them harm and agencies charging the companies for illegal marketing or other regulatory violations.


The high cost of brand-name drugs also hurts the industry's public perception.


Go to 24/7 Wall St. for the full list


Related articles at 24/7 Wall St.

America's worst companies to work for

The smallest professions in America

American cities adding the most jobs



Aug 27, 2012 2:34PM
You missed the number one industry that is hated by Americans THE NEWS MEDIA!
Aug 27, 2012 2:45PM
Aug 27, 2012 5:07PM

They also missed that f-in dating service that just keeps posting this sh!t.

Aug 27, 2012 3:10PM

4 years ago, when gas prices were $3.20/gallon, all the Dems and half the country blamed Bush, Halliburton, Exxon, et al.

Now at 4.10/gallon, who gets the blame? Certainly not Obama! Why, that would be too truthful for the media.


Aug 27, 2012 4:23PM

Gee, how did they leave out lawyers, politicians, and journalists? (Oh yeah, they ARE journalists!)


Question: What's a 100 lawyers, politicians, and journalists at the bottom of the ocean?

Answer: A good start!


Aug 27, 2012 3:11PM

interesting how we hate the gas companies, during the last administration we hated the govt for the same reason. Somehow this clown gets a pass. I hate hypocrisy more than anything!


Aug 27, 2012 5:58PM
I know the government is a non-producing industry(How ironic the gov. is non-producing, lol), but if it were it would be off the scale for most hated.
Aug 27, 2012 4:52PM
They missed the biggest one.........Spam companies and the people that work for them. Number 2 (or tied for #1 should be the bottom feeder side of the financial industry........Collectors and the 3rd party "bad investment" auction/collection companies.  (would include the FEDS)

Aug 27, 2012 7:03PM
If Americans hate the oil industry so much, then they should stop being its biggest customer.
Aug 27, 2012 4:21PM
hey missed one the car sales industry
Aug 27, 2012 9:20PM

No 1 should be attorneys - they are running (and ruining) our country and making the price of everything more expensive with the outlandish judgements.


No 2 should be pharmaceuticals - I do not need someone to twell me I need to go to my doctor and ask for such and such a pill - that hgas more side effects than it will help me.




NO. 3 Banking - I worked in this field for 36 years - at one time it was about helping people with SOUND FINANCIAL ADVISE - now it is cram every product down your throat as a consumer.

Aug 27, 2012 4:46PM
Seems odd that the most hated business are the ones you have to pay for. Furniture companys have a 350% mark up, energy has an average of 10% net as their product is on the commodities exchange, go figure if you are smart enough!
Aug 27, 2012 6:50PM
They forgot Comcast.  That has to be somewhere in the top ten.
Aug 27, 2012 5:52PM
I suspect that it's the Wall Street speculators who are most responsible for the gas fluctuations, not the oil companies.  They are the ones who bet on futures which drive up the cost of crude.
Aug 27, 2012 3:44PM
I love the oil and gas industry. About 30 years ago, I worked for Exxon for a year. They were very hard working. They found oil and gas. Prepared it. Sold it..Otherwise, I would have to ride a horse or a bicycle. If Obama doesn't like oil and gas companies, it is only he hates white people.
Aug 27, 2012 7:48PM
Hate to break the news, but oil and gas are not "American" companies.  Unless a company is owned by one person, a limited partnership or employee only stock holders, ,most companies including gas and oil are owned by people all over the world who buy stocks in them.  Do you have an IRA or 401k?  You probably own them too.
Aug 27, 2012 11:31PM
ABSOLUTELY one of the most RIDICULOUS articles I have ever seen!!!
Aug 27, 2012 3:49PM
>>>interesting how we hate the gas companies, during the last administration we hated the govt for the same reason. Somehow this clown gets a pass. I hate hypocrisy more than anything!<<<

That's because the last administration was PART of this industry!!
Oct 5, 2012 3:33PM
The cable/internet/phone companies are not on the list?
Oct 5, 2012 2:26PM
Where is the Electric company hatred, Especially Socal Edison. f***ing crooks
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